Dreaming Shapes in the Mist: Haibun

I am dreaming. I traipse across the moors in Brontë country. It’s almost Halloween, and back home I’ll soon be carving jagged smiles on pumpkin faces. As I walk, the sun sinks lower in the sky, deepening the grass’s golden glow. Shadows walk with me, till they are obscured by the darkness. Night lays a black shroud over the naked trees and heathered knolls, covering them completely. A fine misty rain obscures my vision even more. It kisses me all over, lightly like a playful lover, until I am weakened and drenched. I stand, uncertain where to go or how to find my way home. At the sound of a ghostly screech, I jump, then laugh a bit at my fright. It’s just a barn owl. There’s nothing here to frighten you, I tell myself–until cold fingers wrap themselves around my wrist. I try to call out, but no sound emerges from my throat. I try to wake, but I cannot. I am dreaming I tell myself as the bony fingers pull me down to the cold, damp ground.

 

Shapes in the darkness

nightmares come in autumn’s mist

Jack’s crooked mouth laughs

 

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George Lambert, “Moorland Landscape with Rainstorm,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been told a true Haibun is supposed to be based on a real experience, but I decided to have a bit of seasonal fun with this. I suppose it is flash fiction with a haiku, but I’m calling it a Haibun. This is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were mist and shape.

 

 

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The Skulls: Microfiction

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Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The princess was awakened in the night by rough hands and gruff voices.  Her attendants were killed, and she was thrust into deep hole, a dungeon known only to few, while her captors decided if she was more valuable to them alive or dead. She was a pawn in dynastic feuds.

She lay there in the dark, too stunned and fearful to think or do anything. A rustling in the fetid space around her, finally got her attention. Somehow she knew the sound came from beings, not only rats–though they probably would come looking for a piece of her to chew on soon.

“Don’t be frightened,” she said. “Someone will help us.

My mother used to tell me stories. Shall I tell you one?”

More than a little frightened herself, she began speaking, telling a tale of magic and light, of music and sunshine, of finding a way home from the darkness. Gradually, figures appeared, glowing spirits. They hovered around her, listening to the tale and illuminating the dungeon with their light. She was now able to see that all around here were piles of bones and skulls, the remains of men, women, and children who had been left here to die alone. The princess told these lost souls story after story, until she, too, was near death.

But the princess did not die. One of her attendants had hidden under the bed and survived the slaughter in the bedchamber. This loyal attendant had run for help, the kidnappers were captured, and the princess was rescued–but she did not forget the lost souls in the dungeon.

Eventually she became queen. Shortly after her coronation, she returned to the dungeon. Ordering her guards to remain at the entrance, she walked down the dark steps alone. She sat there in the dirt and told a story of magic and light, of music and sunshine, and of finding a way home from the darkness. She rose then and told the spirits she would build them a new home.

Before long a section was added to her palace. It was called Hope’s Annex, named for the Queen, who had taken the name Hope. The bones from the dungeon were gathered, sorted, and placed there. The building was filled with light from large windows and glass doors, which were opened to the flower gardens in fine weather. It was furnished with comfortable seats, tables, and bookcases crowded with books. People visited, day and night. They read the books, had concerts, and told stories. And the spirits were happy, at last.

 

This is for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange Microfiction Challenge.

The prompt is the illustration above, which is certainly strange. I have no idea what the original fairy tale was about.

 

 

Ghost Dance: A Quadrille

 

He watched them dance out on the beach,

watched them dance, just out of reach,

he stood and gazed, in a trance,

time stood still, or was enhanced,

a ghost flitted near and took his hand,

he joined the dance, for he was damned.

 

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Thorvald Niss, “In the Morning On the Beach,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

This is for dVerse, Quadrille Monday. This week it’s hosted by Kim from Writing in North Norfolk. The prompt word is ghost.

 

 

Angels and Magic: Magnetic Poetry

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Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

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There are fools surrounding a god

of smoke & poison

remember angel voices caramel breath linger long,

listen–

“it is I,

time to wake”

embrace this desire & live no prisoner

fever haunted

laugh open our secret magic

never let peace go

 

 

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in warm night

a marble boy is born

the star bleeds

delicious colors

and will heal him

it is salt-rhythm poetry

glass and fire

for a wild heart

 

Saturday Magnetic Poetry. The Oracle decided to go with some magical realism, or surrealism, or perhaps it’s time for Angels in America (again).  The Oracle is cryptic.

 

Succubus: Magnetic Poetry

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In the night listen–

that soft voice,

a breeze comes with perfume

hot fire lips explore,

the kiss lingers,

this marble ghost like smoke–

remember

when you wake

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John Everett Millais [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

This is for Elusive Trope’s Magnetic Poetry Saturday Challenge

the Halloween edition.

 

 

 

 

The Lake: Microfiction

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Olav Johan Andreassen, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Stefan Danielsen prided himself on his investigative skills and objectivity, and those skills had won him acclaim as a journalist. So here he was, huddled behind a rock– because he had been intrigued by the rumors he’d heard about this remote Norwegian lake. Now he wondered why he was wasting his time. Of course, there was nothing here.

God, it was cold. Winter came early this far north. He wondered if he could risk lighting a cigarette.

An icy touch on the back of his neck. Get a grip, Danielsen, he thought to himself. It’s the wind.

He thought he heard music, a tune in a minor key. It seemed both familiar and unknown. Don’t be ridiculous, he told himself. It’s just the wind.

Wait till I tell Ove about this. He imagined how Ove, his little brother, would tease him for being frightened by shadows and wind.

It was close to midnight. He rubbed his eyes, blinked, as silhouetted figures appeared on the shore; men and women dancing slowly to that minor tune. Yes, the same music he thought he had heard earlier.

Who were they? He fumbled for his camera, as the tempo of the music increased, and the dancers twirled faster and faster. They called to him, their siren voices somehow inside his head, drawing him in.

Spellbound, powerless, his body floated toward the circle. The Cimmerian figures held him, crooning, as they gyrated for seconds, minutes, hours. Time no longer had any meaning. His body was an empty shell. It would be found on the beach in the morning. His spirit, however, it would dance on that shore every night, in a circle, forever.

 

This story is for Jane Dougherty’s Writing Challenge.  The prompt was the painting above.

Sweet Water Song and Look Out They’re Here: Magnetic Poetry Saturday Challenge

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The oracle first gave me this poem, a contemplation of life and love. The bottom seems to be cut off in the screen shot. I copied it first, just in case. Perhaps the oracle thought that was a better ending.

Sweet Water Song

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Ask an ancient river

whither come love

between moss or spring bloom

a color bright

& moon over rock

it is here

I know

follow sweet water song

and gentle breezes

making poetry

to ask why

this life

here

 

Then this one came from the leftover words.

Look Out! They’re Here

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though vivid

never watch

as cold brown blanket

rose above him

No

Life who were

Some say

Walk

Wander this world nightly

 

 

Both poems are for Elusive Trope’s Magnetic Poetry Saturday Challenge.  I think they illustrate our dual natures. I watch Masterpiece Theatre and The Walking Dead.

Everyone is welcome to play along on Magnetic Poetry Saturday. See the links on Mr. Trope’s page on his blog, Specks and Fragments.

 

She Waits: Microfiction

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Harald Slott-Møller . “Spring”[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Every day, just before twilight, Susie arrives, blond curls adored with flowers, and feet bare, no matter the season. She appears silently and sits by the water. The birds come and go in a noisy chatter, but she doesn’t talk back to them. She sits quietly. This is typical. She was always a pensive child. But folks often remarked that when Susie did smile, her face lit up in such a way that all around her smiled back.

The chirps and trills of the birds, the whir of insects, and the soft lapping of the water create a harmony of nature. There are no human sounds. Long ago, the area was vibrant, alive with fishermen and farmers, artists and craftspeople, lovers and families–and joy. Some say it was disease, a plague that destroyed this world; others say it was the men who came with whips and chains. But does it matter? That life vanished hundreds of years ago. And Susie no longer smiles.

Still, she comes and sits by the water, as though waiting for something. What does Susie’s gaze reveal? Is it hope or warning? Ask the few who have glimpsed her sitting there in the gloaming. Ask, if you can find them.

 

This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge using this painting  by Harald Slott-Møller. I pretty much ignored spring and the prompt words.

The Blue Room

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Adriano Cecioni, “Interior with a Figure,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

“I’ve put you in the blue room,” the landlady of the respectable seaside boarding house had said. “I’m sure it will suit you.”

Lillie was at the boardinghouse to regain her health. She suffered from a nervous condition, according to her aunt’s physician. In his view, it was brought on by all the reading she did. She needed fresh air and exercise to cure her of her fancies.

They all said—her aunt and cousins—that she was too sensitive. Even more so since the young man she had hoped to marry was killed in the Crimean War. She always seemed more comfortable reading her books. Immersed in fictional worlds, she escaped the constant chatter and gossip of her cousins. Thus, while her aunt wasn’t looking, and despite the doctor’s orders, Lillie had slipped a book into her small travel bag.

On the first night in the blue room, tucked in bed under the warm quilt, she read her book, before blowing out the candle and drifting off to sleep. Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, she sensed she was not alone. A luminous presence hovered nearby. “Lillie,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

The next night, he came again just as she fell asleep. This time he kissed her. She began to long for the nights and his caresses. She barely spoke to the other women staying in the boardinghouse, although they muttered about strange noises coming from her room at night. For three weeks, she sleepwalked through the days, but at night, in her dreams, she was alive with passion.

One morning, she did not come down for breakfast. They found her body in the blue room under the crisp, white sheets. A book was by her side, The Demon Lover.

 

This is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge. –although I went over 200 words with this one. Oops.  The prompt was the painting above by Adriano Cecioni.

I had been thinking about Victorian views of women, medicine, and hysteria. I discovered after I wrote the story that there is well-known story called “The Demon Lover,” by Elizabeth Bowen. Written in 1945, it is about a woman affected by the Blitz in London, and who upon returning to her home there, find she may or may not have been contacted by her fiancé killed in WWI.